13 Days – The Silk Road of China

Highlights –

  • In Gansu Province experience the fascinating Silk Road history; and discover painted rainbow mountains, ancient Buddhist caves, sweeping deserts and the Great Wall’s fearsome Jiayuguan Fort.
  • Explore the Forbidden City in Beijing, home to 9999 different rooms; and walk along the Great Wall. Learn to cook delicious Chinese food in the Hutongs.
  • Be totally amazed by the Terracotta Warriors – an immense army of thousands of infantrymen, archers and cavalry riders.

Tour Overview

Day 1. Arrival Beijing

Welcome to China!

On arrival in Beijing, we’ll be welcomed by the local guide and transferred to the hotel.

Overnight in Beijing

Day 2. Beijing

In the morning we’ll head to the Temple of Heaven. The Chinese flock here to do Tai Qi, Kung Fu, sabre practice, meditation, tango and gymnastics. Some practice calligraphy on the park’s flagstones using giant brushes and water.

Our next visit is to the Forbidden City. According to ancient beliefs it faces south, towards Tiananmen Square. The construction of the City finished in 1420 and served as the Imperial administrative centre throughout the Ming and Qing Dynasties until the fall of the Empire in 1911. According to legend the Forbidden City is made up of 9999 different rooms. Restored in 2008 for the Beijing Olympics, the Forbidden City has since regained its youthful, vivid colours.

From here, we’ll make our way to the famed hutongs – the narrow alleys and streets of Beijing, located near Houhai Lake. We’ll visit the Gulou – the Drum Tower where during the Ming Dynasty, the city marked the hours of the day with the rumbling of drums. The tower faces the Zhonglou, the Bell Tower, and gives us a glimpse of ancient Beijing.

Overnight in Beijing

Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Day 3. BeijingJinshanling Great WallBeijing

Get ready to walk the Great Wall! We’ll visit the Jinshanling Section where we’ll retrace our steps back to the Qin Dynasty (more than 2,000 years ago) to find the first traces of the defensive walls. During the Ming Dynasty, workers restored and expanded the Wall to the height, width and length we recognize today.

With the lookout towers placed on the highest ridges, the guards could watch out for alarm fires down the wall in case of barbarian intruders. The wall slowed down Mongolian cavalry by forcing them to dismount from their horses before attacking.

At its peak, the wall extended over more than 6,000 kilometres across ancient Manchuria to the fort of Jiayuguan, where the Gobi Desert begins.

We’ll then drive back to the Hutong for a private cooking class where we’ll learn how to prepare three dishes. The class ends with a delicious meal of our freshly cooked dishes.

Overnight in Beijing

Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Day 4. BeijingXian

All aboard the bullet train for the journey to Xi’an.

The capital of the Empire three times, Xi’an has played a decisive role in the history of the country. On the Silk Road, the city was an administrative site and a hub of commerce. During the reign of the first Emperor of China, the city had over a million people. Later, during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 BC) the city became the most populated city in the world.

Xi’an is also a city of many cultures. During the days of the Silk Road, Muslim merchants from Central Asia left their influence in Xi’an. We’ll visit the Chinese-style Mosque and the vibrant surrounding neighbourhood where men wear white skull caps and women wear colourful headscarves.

Overnight in Xi’an

Meals: Breakfast

Day 5. Xian

This morning, be prepared for an incredible sight – the Terracotta Warriors!

In 1974, a few farmers stumbled upon the Warriors by accident. Little did they know that they had just discovered one of the greatest archeological finds in history!

Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi (247 to 221 BC) built a mausoleum for his immense army of infantrymen, archers, and cavalry riders so they could protect him in the afterlife.  We’ll visit the three pits, one of which contains over 2,000 warriors – each one with a differently carved face.

There is also a small museum that houses two splendid bronze chariots along with other artifacts.

We can then take a cart tour or even a tandem bike to discover more of Xi’an. We’ll see the impressive Xi’an ramparts built during the Ming Dynasty. Today, they stand restored and reconstructed.

Overnight in Xi’an

Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Day 6. XianLanzhou

Today, another high-speed train will whisk us off to Lanzhou.

On arrival in Lanzhou in Gansu province, our guide will be there to welcome us and take us to the hotel.

With a fascinating Silk Road history and rich culture, Gansu province is at the crossroads of Eastern and Western China, Mongolia and Sichuan province. It has played a pivotal role in the development of China’s trade and is a meeting point for various cultures – Chinese, Hi, Dongxiang, Tu, Manchu, Kazak, Mongolian and Tibetan.

Lanzhou, our starting point, is the cultural, economic and political capital.  Located on the banks of the Yellow River, Lanzhou offers a pleasant combination where ancient and modern mingle in a ‘countryside’ vibe.

In the evening we’ll visit the local night market.

Overnight in Lanzhou

Meals: Breakfast

Day 7. LanzhouZhangye

Today’s bullet train journey will transport us to Zhangye.

On arrival, our guide will be ready to take us sightseeing.

The main attraction of this city is the huge Sleeping Buddha – over 34-metres-long with a four-metre-long ear! It is the biggest in China, and according to legend is where the Kublai Khan was born. We’ll then head to the Danxia Coloured Mountains, a unique type of geomorphology found in China. These famous Chinese mountains are known for their otherworldly colours that mimic a rainbow painted over the top of rolling mountains.

Overnight in Zhangye

Meals: Breakfast

Day 8. ZhangyeDunhuang

In the morning, we’ll set off to Jiayuguan by road.

On arrival, we get the opportunity to climb the last tower of the Great Wall. The Jiayuguan Fort faces to the West, once known as the Devil’s Land, and was a key part of the ancient Silk Road. Jiayuguan has a fearsome reputation, as many years ago, criminals were banished to Jiayuguan – and never returned.

Particularly interesting is the Museum, which houses one of the most complete exhibitions on the Great Wall available in China.

Not far from the city are the underground Wei-Jin Tombs (220-420AD). Their ornamental painted bricks are both peculiar and delicate, and represent a little-known treasure of the area.

In the afternoon we’ll be transferred to the train station for the bullet train to Dunhuang.

On arrival, the guide will take us to the hotel.

Dunhuang (Blazing Beacons) is a former garrison town situated on a stunning oasis on the edge of a vast desert. The town was named after the rammed earth towers which were set alight to warn of nomadic attacks.

Overnight in Dunhuang

Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Day 9. Dunhuang

After breakfast, we get to explore the Mogao Caves, a UNESCO Heritage Site. The caves are home to examples of Buddhist art covering a span of 1,000 years, including murals, frescos and giant Buddhas.

We’ll also visit Mingsha Mountains where massive sand dunes can reach 300 metres; and Crescent Moon Lake, a natural spring. We’ll climb to the top of the highest dune for incredible views of the setting sun.

In the evening we’ll visit Shazhou Night Market.

Overnight in Dunhuang

Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Day 10. Dunhuang

In the late afternoon, well head out to Yadan National Park. These desert rocks are particularly fascinating at sunset. The unique landscaping and evocative formations have been created over 700,000 years by wind erosion.

On the way back from Yadan National Park well pass by the remains of the Han Great Wall, still visible on the side of the white road.

Overnight in Dunhuang

Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Day 11. DunhuangShanghai

Today we’ll board a flight to Shanghai. After arrival and check in at the hotel, there is time for leisure.

Overnight in Shanghai

Meals: Breakfast

Day 12. Shanghai

In the morning we will head to the French Concession. We’ll stroll through Fuxing Park to watch locals practicing their morning exercise, including colourful tango dancers. We’ll wander past old colonial homes that have now been transformed into restaurants, bars and boutiques. It’s hard to imagine that in the 1930s this area was once home to gangsters, mafia, opium traffickers and prostitutes!

We’ll continue our walk to Xintiandi, a renovated area and one of the liveliest parts of the city. In Tianzifang, we can wander through the maze of authentic alleyways full of restaurants, boutiques and small art galleries.

Our walk will end in the Old Town, which still has some of its old lilongs (similar to Beijing’s hutongs). This area is also home to the famous Yu Yuan Gardens, a superb example of the art of Chinese garden landscaping where rocks represent mountains; ponds represent lakes; and running water imitates rivers.

Overnight in Shanghai

Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Day 13. ShanghaiDeparture

Let’s enjoy our last day in Shanghai until it’s time to check-out. In the afternoon, we will be taken to the airport for our onward flight.

Meals included: Breakfast


13 days / 12 nights


Tour Reviews

There are no reviews yet.

Leave a Review